By the time the Knight Bus pulled into Hogsmeade, Hermione had somewhat pulled herself together, pushed aside the feelings of regret she had for being too hasty, and had the beginnings of a plan. She could use the Three Broomsticks as a base, and apparate to all places she wanted to go on her own gap year trip.
Madam Rosmerta saw her immediately as she walked in the door. “Hermione!” she called from across the pub, and started to bustle towards her. Hermione was surprised that Rosmerta even knew her name. “Hermione, I am so glad you are here! Did she call you? I was just trying to figure out if I should call her husband.”
Hermione had learned that if you kept quiet when you didn’t know what someone was talking about you could often figure it out eventually.
“Hermione?” A small voice from a table in the corner caught Hermione’s ear. She turned to see Fleur Weasley looking terrible. Well, terrible for Fleur, that is. Her skin was all blotchy and her eyes were so puffy it looked like she had been crying for days.
“Fleur? What are you doing here? Are you okay?”
“I…I needed to get away somewhere, I…” she stopped, obviously trying to hold back tears. “Hermione, I am pregnant” she blurted out.
“Oh! Well that’s…um, I was going to say that’s wonderful, but you obviously don’t think it is, and that’s okay. Do you want to talk about it?”
“It is just. It is wonderful, of course it is, and I am happy. I know I do not look it, but I am. But Hermione, I am also so scared. I do not think I will be a good mother.”
“Nonsense! You are good at everything” Hermione stopped short after Fleur shot her an angry look.
“That is not true. Just because I’m pretty doesn’t mean I am good at everything. My mother was not a wonderful mother. Veelas are not known for being warm and caring. That is why I feel such maternal feelings for my sister, since I was practically her mother.”
“Well, there you go then! You’ve had experience.”
“But I did not care for her when she was a newborn baby. I have no idea what I would do. And, well, that is not even the thing I am scared of most, actually.”
Hermione sat quietly and let her go on in her own time.
“Hermione, do not judge me, but I am afraid, because of what happened to Bill, you know, I am afraid this baby will be…will be…wolfish.” She looked ashamed as she said it.
“Oh Fleur, you’re pregnant, and you weren’t expecting it, of course you are worried about all kinds of things.” The two women sat quietly then, not saying anything for a minute. Hermione got an idea. It wasn’t her favourite idea ever.
“Fleur,” she said, not believing what she was doing even as the words were coming out of her mouth, “I was planning on going on a trip. I have some thinking to do myself and, well, would you want to come with me?
Fleur looked at Hermione and her face slowly brightened. “I think that is just what I need. I can leave immediately, I just have to go back to the cottage to collect my things and tell Bill. Can you apparate there too?” The two women went out behind the pub and Hermione braced herself before apparating.
They arrived at the cottage and Fleur opened the front door. “Bill? Bill, are you here?”
Hermione found a note on the kitchen table and showed it to Fleur.
I have to go. Emergency. I’ll be gone for a few days. Be well.
Fleur looked at Hermione in shock. “This is not Bill’s handwriting, and he would never be so short with me!” Her gaze hardened. “Hermione, we have to find him!”